To determine the correspondence between anatomical and physiological cell types in the ventral cochlear nucleus of the cat, intracellular injections of horseradish peroxidase were made into cells whose extracellular and intracellular responses to sound had been studied.
Three identified cells responded to a short tone burst at their characteristic frequencies with an onset pattern. This pattern is characterized by a strong response to the onset of the stimulus. One was an octopus cell. The second cell, located in the octopus-cell area, was a giant cell with a few somatic spines and thin tapering dendrites; the intracellular record revealed that even in the absence of sound it received continuous synaptic input, while tones at characteristic frequency produced a sustained depolarization. A third cell, which had an onset response at low intensities and a chopper response at high intensities, was a stellate cell located in the intermediate acoustic stria with dendrites oriented parallel to the fiber tract. This cell had an unusually broad dynamic range in response to changes in intensity.
Two cells with transient chopper response patterns were stellate cells in the posteroventral cochlear nucleus with many branched and beaded dendrites. Three cells with more sustained chopper response patterns were stellate cells in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus with fewer, less-branched, smooth dendrites.
Two cells with primarylike responses to tones were bushy cells with numerous short, thin, highly branched dendrites in the posterior division of the anteroventral cochlear nucleus. Intracellular responses to tones at the characteristic frequency consisted of large brief depolarizations, which were not sustained.
Another cell, which responded to tones in a phase-locked fashion, was also located in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus. It was a small, stellate cell with relatively few, smooth dendrites.
The labeled cells largely support previous attempts at physiological-morphological correlations: (1) bushy cells exhibit primarylike pattern; (2) stellate cells exhibit chopper patterns; and (3) octopus cells exhibit an onset pattern. It was also demonstrated that more than one cell type can exhibit a particular response pattern.